May 27, 2024

Breeders’ Cup follow-up identifies horses to back or fade next time

Gun Runner wrapped up the 2017 Breeders' Cup with a smashing win in the $6 million Classic (c) Matt Wooley/EquiSport Photos

By Scott Shapiro

The first Breeders’ Cup at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club proved to be an overwhelming success.

The 13-races provided some whacky results, as well as impressive performances by Forever Unbridled in the Distaff Friday and likely Horse of the Year Gun Runner in the Classic Saturday.

Regardless of whether you connected on the $2546.40 ($1) Daily Double that started with 30-1 Stormy Liberal in the Turf Sprint and concluded with 66-1 Bar of Gold in the Filly & Mare Sprint or left San Diego County with empty pockets, there is nothing you can do to change the results of the 2017 World Championships. However, re-watching the races and taking notes on the two days can provide handicappers with useful data that ideally can help us profit when the some of the competitors return to the races later this year or in 2018.

Here are a couple of Breeders’ Cup runners I will be keeping an eye out for:

Heavenly Love

The daughter of Malibu Moon came into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies off of two straight wins, including a dominant performance in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland in early October. The Mark Casse runner had reportedly trained extremely well coming into the race, but tired badly when the real running started last Saturday and finished a disappointing eleventh.

On the surface it might appear that the Debby Oxley owned filly may have been overmatched, but I am willing to forgive the effort at Del Mar. Not only was she against the flow of the race, but she was also on the wrong part of the racetrack.

2-1-favorite Moonshine Memories set a hot early pace, which set things up for eventual winner Caledonia Road and for my top choice 30-1 long shot Blonde Bomber to close out the trifecta. Heavenly Love found herself in a stalking spot along the inside of the track. On some days that is the place to be, but a review of the 13 Breeders’ Cup events as well as the undercards on Friday and Saturday reveals that this was not the case last weekend.

I expect to see a much better performance from the talented Kentucky bred next time out when she is not up against it.

Unique Bella

I came into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint dead against even-money favorite Unique Bella and I will look forward to fading her the next time she takes on Grade 1 company as well.

Sure, the Don Alberto Stable filly set brisk early fractions and raced over a dead rail during the middle stages of the seven-furlong dash, but she was passed like she was standing still by tough luck runner-up Ami’s Flatter and 80-1 long shot Princess Karen when the field turned for home.

If this daughter of Tapit continues to get rave reviews in the mornings and gets pounded at the pari-mutuel windows in the afternoons, she will be worth taking shots against in 2018 despite obvious talent.

Ideally trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will be able to keep her on the track and stretch her back out to two turns where she truly belongs. If so she will be an interesting horse to follow as a fan, but certainly not one I am eager to wager on against top level competition.

A plethora of horses were compromised due to race shape or traffic issues, so by no means are Heavenly Love and Unique Bella the only two that made an impression on me after viewing the races without bias earlier this week. Do yourself a favor and watch the Breeders’ Cup races again. You may be surprised with how many juicy goodies you come across.

Good luck at the windows as we have plenty of racing action to be involved with in November including the Del Mar “Bing Crosby” meeting and Churchill Downs.

You can find my full card selections/analysis of everyday in Southern California here: